Education Seeks Researcher/Writer

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jun 26, 2008 wants to hire you! If you are a cracker-jack researcher and writer, we want you for research and stories from around the world about mobiles for social impact.  Some data entry on organizations and projects around the world using mobile phones to make the world a better place are also part of the job. Online and telephone research, interviews, writing reports and blog posts.

Must be a thorough researcher, and persuasive and clear writer. Living and working experience in developing country/ies a must. This is an ideal position for journalism graduate student with a great interest in mobile tech, or for a technologist interested in the social implications of the mobile revolution. Location in New York preferred but could be done from anywhere IF it's the right person. Fluency in Spanish or Arabic  a great plus. Some travel will be supported.

Send a resume, cover letter explaining why we should hire you, and at least TWO published pieces pertaining to this or a related subject matter of at least 300-500 words. Send your materials to katrin [at] mobileactive [dot] org. Search is open until we find the perfect candidate(s), so hurry.

Using mLearning and MOOCs to Understand Chaos, Emergence, and Complexity in Education

Posted by ccarlon on Dec 08, 2011
Using mLearning and MOOCs to Understand Chaos, Emergence, and Complexity in Education data sheet 673 Views
deWaard, Abajian, Gallagher, Hogue, Keskin, Koutropoulos, and Rodriguez
Publication Date: 
Nov 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

In this paper, we look at how the massive open online course (MOOC) format developed by connectivist researchers and enthusiasts can help analyze the complexity, emergence, and chaos at work in the field of education today. We do this through the prism of a MobiMOOC, a six-week course focusing on mLearning that ran from April to May 2011. MobiMOOC embraced the core MOOC components of self-organization, connectedness, openness, complexity, and the resulting chaos, and, as such, serves as an interesting paradigm for new educational orders that are currently emerging in the field. We discuss the nature of participation in MobiMOOC, the use of mobile technology and social media, and how these factors contributed to a chaotic learning environment with emerging phenomena. These emerging phenomena resulted in a transformative educational paradigm.


Scaling Up Without Falling Short: Leveraging Mobile Tech for the Base of the Pyramid

Posted by EKStallings on Oct 19, 2011

Despite possibilities of scaling projects with technology, many technology-based initiatives in social and economic development have failed to make it past early pilot stages or grow to scale. This study by Hystra, in collaboration with Ashoka and TNO, examines what successful ventures within four sectors can teach us about models for scaling Information and Communications Technology (ICT) -based applications and projects aimed at reaching bottom-of-the-pyramid customers (referred to as Base of the Pyramid in the report). The researchers focused specifically on these sectors: education, health, agricultural services, and financial services.

What Did the Study Review?

Initially considering 280 projects as promising models, researchers found that over half were not worth researching because projects lacked sustainability or replicatibility. Many of the projects were dead pilot projects or were small with no sign of the possibility or intent of scaling in size or reach.

From there, researchers homed in on 16 groundbreaking cases. These projects had reached scale (defined as having 10,000 clients or more) or had the potential to do so. All projects were assessed against three criteria: Is the solution solving the (specified) problem? Is the project economically viable? Is the project scalable and replicable? The researchers grouped projects into specific clusters based on business model type. All projects researched were value-added or market-based, because of the researchers’ belief that such models increase project sustainability and client investment in the project.

The models that the researchers looked at varied. For instance, researchers asked whether end-users accessed the technology themselves as opposed to being delivered trough an intermediary.

An Exploratory Study on the Use of Camera Phones and Pico Projectors in Rural India

Posted by ccarlon on Oct 04, 2011
An Exploratory Study on the Use of Camera Phones and Pico Projectors in Rural India data sheet 2005 Views
Mathur, Akhil, Divya Ramachandran, Edward Cutrell, and Ravin Balakrishnan.
Publication Date: 
Aug 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

We explore the potential of using camera phones and pico projectors in rapid creation and presentation of digital content in a development context. A camera phone based content authoring application was designed and deployed with three different user populations in the domains of classroom education and health care.


Our findings show that despite the variations in education levels, cultural background, and technology exposure, users successfully created and presented different forms of digital content using the camera phone and pico projector.

October Events Roundup

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 04, 2011

A new month brings new events, so check out everything that's happening in mobile-for-development land this October!

  • 4-7 October  STAR-TIDES Technology Demo (Washington, D.C., USA) This free Tech@State event "showcases innovative, low-cost, sustainable technologies for stressed populations, post-war, post-disaster, and impoverished [communities]." Visitors can interact with the technology and there will be live demonstrations throughout the event. 
  • 4-7 October  Planet of the Apps Europe (London, UK) If you're looking for an event that focuses on the business side of mobile development, Planet of the Apps highlights mobile strategies and opportunities for developers, manufacturers, operators, and marketers.
  • 6-7 October  DroidCon UK (London, UK) Love Android? The latest DroidCon is a two-day event for Android developers; the first day features a community-led Barcamp and a democamp where developers can showcase their work and lead discussions, while the second day features presentations from top Android developers.
  • 14-16 October  Data Without Borders (New York City, USA) Do you have data you want analyzed? Data Without Borders is hosting a kickoff "datadive," a weekend of bringing together NGOs with data experts for free consultations and data analyzations. 
  • 18-20 October  RIM DevCon Americans (San Francisco, USA) Want to learn how to develop for the BlackBerry platform? The two-day DevCon Americas is a "showcase for the latest innovations and breakthroughs with the BlackBerry Development Platform. Thousands of BlackBerry enthusiasts come together for sessions, demonstrations, hands-on labs and keynotes — all focused on creating mobile applications for the powerful BlackBerry platform."
  • 27-28 October  Tech4Africa (Johannesburg, South Africa) Tech4Africa looks at mobile, web, and emerging technology in Africa. The event has panel discussions, workshops, and Ignite pitches examining trends in technology and information, specifically for the African market.

Grassroots Support Organizations and Capacity-Building in M4D: A Case Study of the Jokko Initiative in Senegal

Posted by LindsayEllen on Sep 30, 2011
Grassroots Support Organizations and Capacity-Building in M4D: A Case Study of the Jokko Initiative in Senegal data sheet 1213 Views
Lindsay E. Powell
Publication Date: 
May 2011
Publication Type: 

Fueled by renewed enthusiasm about the potential of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are implementing ambitious projects with mobile technology components in the developing world in a phenomenon commonly referred to as “Mobiles-for-development” or “M4D.”


A participatory approach that responds to the needs and realities of local communities is widely recognized as a necessary component of a successful M4D intervention. However, project failure-especially in sub-Saharan Africa- remains the norm, pointing towards the need for more thorough enumeration of best practices and more rigorous impact evaluation on the part of field-based practitioners. This thesis calls for greater attention to be given to the role of human capacity, which is a precondition for participation in M4D interventions but which also tends to be deficient in rural, poor communities. A greater focus on capacity would entail both assessing capacity- in terms of physical resources and human capabilities- at the local level and including capacity-building in project activities when necessary.


This study employs the human development and capabilities approach and the case study and participant observation methods to examine the efforts of the American NGO Tostan to integrate mobile technology into its non-formal education and empowerment program in rural Senegal. The findings of this study underscore the decisive role played by local capacity and intent and by effective, locally based intermediary organizations, conceptualized in this paper as grassroots support organizations (GSOs), that support the acquisition of the human capabilities needed to harness the empowering potential of mobile technology and other ICTs.






SMS in Action: Mapping Out SMS Systems for Social Impact

Posted by ccarlon on Sep 30, 2011

SMS in Action is an interactive crowdmap that allows users to submit and search for SMS-based systems that aim (or claim) to have a social impact.  The map can be filtered by categories including Agriculture, Health, Emergency/Disaster Services, Banking, Economic Development, Information and Media, Education, and Governance with many of these categories dividing into further subcategories. Reports may also be filtered by report date.

Corresponding markers on the map can be clicked giving the user the option to zoom in/out or get more information. While clearly still in its early stages, the map has a lot to offer. A quick search for disease programs under medical/health returned over a dozen hits across the map. Additionally, users may subscribe to receive location-specific email alerts whenever a report is posted within 20 miles of a designated area.

SMS in Action

Harnessing the Mobile Revolution to Bridge the Health Education & Training Gap in Developing Countries

Posted by ccarlon on Sep 16, 2011
Harnessing the Mobile Revolution to Bridge the Health Education & Training Gap in Developing Countries data sheet 199 Views
Callan, Paul, Robin Miller, Rumbidzai Sithole, Matt Daggett, and Daniel Altman from Dalberg Global
Publication Date: 
Jun 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This report for mHealthEd 2011 at the Mobile Health Summit focuses on the effectiveness of mHealth Education applications, analyzing at length the first wave of projects and the steps to be taken into consideration for further initiatives.


The first wave of mHealthEd applications for health workers – most introduced within the last 4 years and some of which are 7 presented in this report – include ones which enable workers to learn new treatment procedures, test their knowledge after training courses, take certification exams remotely, look up information in medical reference publications, and trade ideas on crucial diagnostic and treatment decisions. It is too early to test for impacts on health outcomes, but projects suggest that mHealthEd applications are improving the provision of care and levels of knowledge. Improved training can also increase job satisfaction and reduce attrition rates for healthcare workers.


The World Bank

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 06, 2011

"The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. Our mission is to fight poverty with passion and professionalism for lasting results and to help people help themselves and their environment by providing resources, sharing knowledge, building capacity and forging partnerships in the public and private sectors.
We are not a bank in the common sense; we are made up of two unique development institutions owned by 187 member countries: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA).

Each institution plays a different but collaborative role in advancing the vision of inclusive and sustainable globalization. The IBRD aims to reduce poverty in middle-income and creditworthy poorer countries, while IDA focuses on the world's poorest countries.

Organization Type: 
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.

September Event Roundup

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 02, 2011

A brand new month means brand new events, and September has no shortage of mobile conferences, hackathons, and seminars to keep you busy! Read on to find out what's happening in the mobile world this month:

  • 6-7 September, Mobile Money CALA (Miami, USA) This event is all about mobile banking and payment systems in the Central American and Latin American regions. Discussion topics include how mobile banking case studies from around the world can be adapted to the CALA region, building partnerships between mobile networks and banks, and mobile banking for the unbanked.
  • 8-9 September, The Mobile Payment Conference (New York City, USA) For another look at mobile money, the Mobile Payment Conference gives attendees a chance to discuss how mobile payments can be used in both the business and non-profit industries.
  • 10-11 September, TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon (San Francisco, USA) In preparation for the TechCrunch Disrupt event, the company is hosting a 24-hour hackathon for developers to get together and code new projects. After the hackathon, participants demo their creations to the audience to kick off the Disrupt event.
  • 12-14 September, TechCrunch Disrupt (San Francisco, USA) Following the Hackathon, Disrupt brings together entrepreneurs, developers, and start-up founders. The event features the "Start-Up Battlefield," where participants compete to launch their start-up at the conference, with a $50,000 prize for the winner.
  • 16 September, Future of Mobile Conference (London, U.K.) This one-day event has panels on everything from coding in HTML5, CSS, and Javascript, to choosing the right app store in which to launch your app, to crash courses on developing for different operating systems. If you want to develop apps for smartphones, this is the event for you.

Mobile Learning Toolkit

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Aug 29, 2011
Mobile Learning Toolkit data sheet 2152 Views
Parker, Jenni
Publication Date: 
Jul 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The mobile learning toolkit is the result of research into mobile phone use and user needs within the African context, however it has been developed for use in all developing contexts. It is intended as a “trainer’s toolkit” that can help deliver a wide range of training activities both inside and outside of the classroom.


The mobile learning toolkit is an open source resource that can be used in the delivery of all kinds of training in any context. It has been designed to be as inclusive as possible, with most of the methods requiring only low end devices (basic mobile phones with voice calling and SMS capability). In this way the toolkit can be used to deliver interactive learning experiences to participants right to the Base of the Pyramid (BoP).

Mobile Learning for Africa

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Aug 25, 2011
Mobile Learning for Africa data sheet 2320 Views
Parker, Jennifer
Publication Date: 
Jan 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Within this brief an applied project was conducted in collaboration with the ILO in Geneva. The ILO is currently launching a worldwide training programme called (Managing Your Cooperative), which aims to teach contemporary principles of managing agricultural cooperatives to people in Africa, Asia and Latin America.


The goal of this applied project was to identify mobile learning opportunities within the delivery of this training programme in the African context. The result is a mobile learning toolkit that contains an overview of mobile learning, 15 mobile learning methods and a selection of tools that can be used to facilitate these methods. Each method includes a general step-by-step guide plus a customisation to the training programme.


The mobile learning toolkit is an open source resource that can be used in the delivery of all kinds of training in any developing context. It has been designed to be as inclusive as possible, with most of the methods requiring only low end devices (basic mobile phones with voice calling and SMS capability). In this way the toolkit can be used to deliver interactive distance learning experiences to participants even at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP).

Learning about mLearning: Thoughts from The International Mobiles for Education Symposium

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Aug 25, 2011

USAID recently hosted the International Mobiles for Education Symposium (M4Ed4Dev for short) in Washington, DC. The conference brought together academics, development professionals, tool developers, educators, and representatives from the private sector to assess the current state of mLearning and consider future developments. Given the varied backgrounds of the event’s participants, it’s understandable that a number of different, often conflicting, viewpoints were expressed. Here are a few.

Content Delivery Systems or Learner-Generated Content?

In general, the mobile tools discussed and demonstrated at the event can be divided into two distinct types: Those that deliver content and those that enable students to generate content and/or interact via mobile phone. Content delivery applications (which make up the majority) are largely designed to provide educational content chosen by educators to students who wouldn’t otherwise have access. Examples range from preloaded e-readers in Ghana to “internet a box” projects such as the eGranary.

Butterfly Works

Posted by on Aug 15, 2011

Butterfly Works co-designs for a better world. Our studio is based in Amsterdam and works globally with a core team of 10 designers and organisers. Butterfly Works was founded in 2003 with the wish to contribute to greater equality in the world through co-design.

We work in emerging economies because we believe in undiscovered potential. Through serious media, social branding and experiential learning we share knowledge, trigger creativity and build sustainable businesses.

Butterfly Works have developed numerous concepts which contribute to greater equality in the world, concepts which are currently used in 22 countries in 3 continents. We are honored to have received international awards.
Examples of our work include founding father of Return to Sender, NairoBits Digital Design schools, !SYOU sneakers and a recently launched game called ‘Get H20′.

Organization Type: 
M.S. van Riemsdijkweg 57
The Netherlands
Postal code: 

August Mobile Event Roundup

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Aug 02, 2011

This August has lots of mobile events for everyone from developers, to researchers, to business owners.  Mobile events are happening all over the world this month, so check out the list below to see what's happening near you!

5-7 August MakerFaire (Kumasi, Ghana) Applications are still being accepted for a mini-MakerFaire event in Kumasi, Ghana. Hosted by the International Development Design Summit, the two-day event allows participants to show off their ideas and projects for the ICT world.

18-19 August International m4Ed4Dev Symposium (Bethesda, USA) This USAID event will "focus on potential areas where mobile technology can help achieve education strategy goals with a particular focus in two core areas: literacy and on-demand access to materials, and improved education data for education system strengthening."

19 August All Things Mobile Conference (Denver, USA) This business-oriented event looks at how companies can incorporate mobile applications into their work, and how mobile devices can be used for business.

23-24 August Mobile Entertainment Africa (Cape Town, South Africa) This two-day event is all about entertainment! Different panel discussions cover everything from mobile television, to music delivery systems, to mobile gaming – and how mobiles are changing Africa's approach to entertainment content delivery.

26-28 August Social Dev Chicago (Chicago, USA) Social Dev Camp brings together app and platform developers for a weekend of discussions (on topics such as "Turning Mistakes into Success," "In-App Payments," and "Civic Apps and Open Data") along with a hackathon where developers can collaborate on projects.

Multiple Dates Mobile Monday (worldwide) Mobile Mondays are get togethers for people interested in mobile technology. Local groups host events around the world on different dates, so check out the site to see what's happening near you this month!


1-2 September Apps World Asia (Suntec, Singapore) This conference has workshops and exhibitions where developers can learn new skills and demonstrate multi-platform apps.

Registration is open Tech4Africa (Johannesburg, South Africa) Although this event isn't until 27-28 October, registration is now open for Tech4Africa, a conference that looks at mobile, web, and emerging technology in Africa.

Do you know of any M4D events happening in your area? Let us know in the comments!

Photo via Flickr user Leo Reynolds

Mobiles Games for Education and Development: What Is the Score?

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Jul 22, 2011

As mobile gaming explodes worldwide, the market for “games for good” (either with an educational or social-change focus) is open for growth. Mobile games provide a way to quickly pass time, an always-on-hand source of entertainment, and a way to connect with others through competing scores or sharing strategies.  Can mobile games also be used to teach, inform, and raise awareness?

Level One: The Mobile Gaming Landscape

The current mobile landscape shows that games are popular worldwide, regardless of handset type or region. A June 2011 Gartner report on the state of the gaming industry reported that mobile gaming is expected to see the largest growth percentage of any aspect of the industry (compared to consoles and PCs), estimating “its share growing from 15 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2015.”  Tuong Nguyen, principal research analyst at Gartner, is quoted as saying, “As the popularity of smartphones and tablets continues to expand, gaming will remain a key component in the use of these devices. Although [mobile devices] are never used primarily for gaming, mobile games are the most downloaded application category across most application stores, […] For this reason, mobile gaming will continue to thrive as more consumers expand their use of new and innovative portable connected devices.”

The growth of mobile games can be clearly seen in US mobile trends; a July 2011 report from Nielsen says that games are the most popular kind of app for smartphone owners, with 64% of US smartphone owners using a mobile game app at least once a month. The Nielsen report also found that “the average mobile gamer plays an average of 7.8 hours a month,” and that  “those with iPhones tend to play around 14.7 hours each month while those with Android smartphones play around 9.3 hours per month.”

But mobile games aren’t just popular on smartphones; feature phone users are embracing the mobile gaming trend as well. MobiThinking’s 2011 global mobile statistic report found that among Africans who use mobile devices as their primary means of accessing the Internet, 55 percent report downloading games. OnDevice Research’s 2011 Mobile Internet Satisfaction report found that mobile games can influence handset purchase, as users want mobile devices that can support games. They report that, “89% of mobile media users in Kenya consider the quality of games they can play on their device when choosing a new phone.”

A 2009 report on India’s mobile gaming field from Vital Analytics found “approximately 120 million urban Indians used their mobile phones to play games during quarter ending July 2009, a reach of 41%. In terms of time spent playing games, 37% of the population spends less than an hour in a week playing games while on the other end of the spectrum 9% spend over 5 hours on an average.” The report also found that most popular types of mobiles games for Indian users were sports games (such as cricket) and arcade-style puzzle games.

With all these mobile gaming enthusiasts out there, where does that leave educational and social change games? Couldn’t some of this popularity be turned toward math, literacy, or advocacy games? The landscape shows that mobile games are popular regardless of handset and location, so the question now is how to make a game that provides both value and entertainment to the player.

Mobile Application Security

Posted by VivianOnano on Jun 29, 2011
Mobile Application Security data sheet 1888 Views
Dwivedi, Himanshu, Chris Clark, David Thiel.
ISSN/ISBN Number: 
Publication Date: 
Jan 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

A discussion on mobile application security must address the current issues facing mobile devices and the best way to mitigate them. This chapter aims to provide content on the following subjects:

  • Top issues facing mobile devices
  • Tips for secure mobile application development

The issues covered in this chapter are not exhaustive and appear in no particular order; however, they can be used to begin the conversation on mobile application security in your organization.

Mobile Applications Laboratories Business Plan

Posted by VivianOnano on Jun 06, 2011
Mobile Applications Laboratories Business Plan data sheet 1526 Views
Vital Wave Consulting
Publication Date: 
Mar 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The goal of the plan is to inform infoDev-supported mobile application labs in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) – and other mobile application laboratory initiatives globally – to develop sustainable business models and transition from a donor-funded start-up phase to a selffinancing, sustainable phase over a three-year period.

The plan's six chapters cover the following topics:

  • Landscape Analysis describes mobile applications labs and similar organizations, including success factors and challenges across these labs.
  • Segmentation Analysis offers a typology of mLabs based on relevant defining characteristics and explores examples from parallel fields (e.g., software development, business incubation, technology transfer) to identify the characteristics of labs that function most effectively.
  • Offering & Promotional Strategies examines the services that best support sustainability for the mLab, and offers strategies for driving branding and awareness.
  • Business Model and Pricing Strategies defines potential revenue streams for the services that the labs offer, including potential price lists and menus of options that are tailored to regional markets via the companion Business Model Workbook Tool.
  • Operating Model provides recommendations on resource requirements (e.g., equipment, staffing, skills) and the phased rollout of services and functions over time.
  • Customer and Partner Strategies including the identification of intermediate clients (e.g., mobile applications developers, SMEs), end clients (e.g., app stores, network operators, equipment manufacturers, governments) as well as potential partners, investors and donors.

Apps For Development: Lessons From mPowering

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on May 31, 2011
Apps For Development: Lessons From mPowering data sheet 3241 Views

Non-profit organization mPowering is developing customized mobile apps to help reach the ultra poor -- people living on less than $2 a day -- and connect them with funding opportunities and programs in the developed world.

Reaching individuals and supplying resources in remote regions has huge challenges. The goal of mPowering is to leverage existing mobile infrastructure to open up channels of access. The organization has ongoing programs in Nepal and India which provide incentives to poor individuals for reporting to school or work, via mobile application. The organization is also working to create a mobile donor app to further connect the poor with funding opportunities.

Before a mobile app can be developed and deployed, the mPowering team conducts field research and partners with local institutions. We spoke with Kamael Ann Sugrim, Co-founder and CEO of mPowering, to find out how an app is developed.

Programs in Nepal and India

The mPowering organization is a year old and currently has two programs underway which utilize mobile apps. In Bhaktapur, Nepal, women earn points for reporting to work, and the points can be redeemed for food, clothing, and medicine.

In Orissa, India, 175 children in the village of Juanga earn points for attending school and can redeem the points for food, clothing, and medicine. Teachers have been supplied with donated Android phones with the mPowering application. Through the app, they can “scan” children in for attendance.

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

The goal of mPowering is to help people living below the poverty line by leveraging mobile technology and developing unique mobile applications for development.

Brief description of the project: 

Non-profit organization mPowering is developing customized mobile apps to help reach the ultra poor -- people living on less than $2 a day -- and connect them with funding opportunities and programs in the developed world.

Reaching individuals and supplying resources in remote regions can present challenges. The goal of mPowering is to leverage existing mobile infrastructure to open up channels of access. The organization has ongoing programs in Nepal and India which provide incentives to the poor for reporting to school or work, via mobile application. The organization is also working to create a mobile donor app to further connect the poor with funding opportunities.

Target audience: 

Two ongoing programs are taking place in Bhaktapur, Nepal and Orissa, India. In Nepal, mPowering is working with women, and in India, with school children.

Detailed Information
What worked well? : 

Before an mPowering application is developed, such as the one being used in Orissa, the team conducts field research in program locations. Also, parterning has proved key. mPowering employs local individuals to help operate the programs in Nepal and India. The organization also holds training sessions for families and individuals who receive mPowering phones, and supplies phone chargers at check-in locations.

What did not work? What were the challenges?: 

A recurring challenge for mPowering is mobile access and service. In some program locations, service can be limited and it can be difficult to figure out how to collect data via the app. There have been some design challenges, too, which stem from a push versus pull approach.


Defend Your TopScore in Dr Math's Textual Math Adventures

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on May 24, 2011

We have gathered over 200 journal articles, evaluations and reports on mobiles for development in the mDirectory - a one-stop literature bank on mobiles in social change useful for practitioners and NGOs.

In our "Mobile Research At Your Desk" series, we've featured the work of researchers in the ICT4D field, covering a range of applications. To recap, here's a list of our slidecasts:

The fifth slidecast focuses on the work of Laurie Butgereit. She developed Dr. Math, an educational tool for South African youth, based on the popular mobile instant messaging service called MXit. The report was presented at the IST-Africa Conference in 2009.

Tagged With:

Defend Your TopScore in Dr Math's Textual Math Adventures data sheet 2971 Views
Countries: South Africa

SMSTester for Android: Project and Source Now Open

Posted by SaferMobile on May 18, 2011

One of the main goals of the SaferMobile project is to release software tools that allow activists and rights defenders to use their mobile phones as network monitors and sensors. The goal is to help them, and the mobile developers, human rights organizations and people on the street they work with, to monitor network performance and proactively detect blocking, filtering and censorship. SMSTester is the first tool we are publicly releasing within this category, and it is free, freely licensed and open-source. Our first trial run with Short Message Service Tester (SMSTester) was completed in April 2011. The results are written up here.

Mobiles for Women, Part Two: The Darker Side

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on May 17, 2011

Targeting women with mobile phones and mobile-based projects can bring great benefits and opportunities, as we outlined in Part 1 of our series on women and mobiles. But, there is a “darker side” to this world, which includes changes in gender relations and power dynamic, a potential increase in violence, substitution of money or a change in expenditures, invasion of privacy, and increased control by a male partner.

Changes in Gender Relations and Power Dynamics

When the traditional social dynamic of a household is patriarchal, introducing a mobile phone into the hands of the woman can challenge the existing gender structure. Trina DasGupta, mWomen Programme Director for the GSMA Development Fund, writes in an e-mail to, “threats to the status quo have sometimes been viewed negatively by community leaders and we have seen examples of this gender discrimination manifesting itself when women gain greater access to empowering tools, such as the Internet or mobile phones.”  

Women themselves may not agree. The GRACE project study in Kenya, for example, finds that women do not perceive mobiles at tools for males. “Unlike our literature review that suggested that the mobile phone is culturally construed as a male tool, the women entrepreneurs did not perceive the phone as such. However, the study does indicate that usage of the phone is culturally construed, with an increase in responsibilities and empowerment for one or other profession socially construed as women’s work.”

A paper by Aramanzan Madanda looks at gender relations and ICT adoption in Uganda (the work will soon be published in book format) and finds that “existing gender structures have been dented and that patriarchy is stressed by adoption of the technologies especially mobile phones leading to transformation of gender relations to an extent.”  

Animation without Borders: Mobile Cartoons as a Teaching Tool

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on May 14, 2011
Animation without Borders: Mobile Cartoons as a Teaching Tool data sheet 4879 Views

A team of scientists, animators, and educators are working together to create animated videos that can be sent and downloaded to mobile phones around the world. The animations can be done in any language, are targeted toward low-level literate learners, and convey methods to obtain safe water in Haiti or  techniques to farm effectively in Africa, and concepts such as value in a marketplace exchange.

This University of Illinois project is called "Scientific Animation Without Borders", or SAWBO, for short. The project started about a year ago. As the team delivers the animations via mobile phone and other mechanisms, they also hope to deliver a more collaborative and bottom-up approach toward effective educational materials. spoke with university faculty and graduate students to hear more about animation, education, and mobile technology.

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

Short-term goal: Working with educators to help them to demonstrate teaching concepts using visual aids. A longer-term goal is to develop a library of animations with easier access to a wide audience.

Brief description of the project: 

A team of scientists, animators, and educators are working together to create animated videos that can be sent and downloaded to mobile phones around the world. The animations can be done in any language and are targeted toward low-level literate learners.

Target audience: 

The target audience is low-level literate learners.

Detailed Information
What worked well? : 

Animation is a cost-effective approach to creating multiple language versions of content. The team is able to tap into a volunteer network of translators at the university. The online library allows for peer review of the concepts and content.

What did not work? What were the challenges?: 

One challenge is that for mobile delivery, access is dependent on bluetooth technology and video-enabled phones.

Group Complete

Posted by radicaldynamic on Apr 06, 2011
Group Complete data sheet 3094 Views
Organization that developed the Tool: 
Main Contact: 
Matt Adams
Problem or Need: 

Whether in the developing world or the business sector, the majority of mobile data collection efforts parallel the processes set down by their largely paper-based predecessors. In traditional data collection systems information is collected from a variety of sources, funnelled to a single point and eventually compiled, sorted and (hopefully) acted upon. In many cases this workflow meets the basic needs of data consumers and in some cases is preferable.

Let's consider some of the challenges posed by traditional one-way data collection systems.

  • The people performing data collection (usually referred to as "mobile workers") don't have access to the wealth of raw information available to data consumers. This makes mobile workers outsiders to the big picture and lessens their potential contributions to the overall data collection effort.
  • Solutions pull collected data into a black hole: once it's submitted there's very little the mobile worker can do to access it for review or to make corrections.
  • Implementations often force knowledgeable team members to work in a void. If data cannot be easily and seamlessly shared between team members collaborative efforts will be impeded and their overall effectiveness reduced.
  • When team members cannot "see" what others in the group are doing, the chances of double-entry and redundant information are all the more likely.
  • When aggregated data finally returns to mobile workers it is often severely outdated.
  • Solutions are not really mobile if they require workers to access desktops or laptops to complete tasks essential to the data collection process. This is also true if the tools make it impossible to take pertinent portions of the data set with them for online & offline use.
Main Contact Email : 
Brief Description: 

Group Complete has coupled the power and open architecture of Open Data Kit and XForms standards with CouchDB to provide a mobile and real-time collaborative data collection platform.

Tool Category: 
App resides and runs on a mobile phone
App resides and runs on a server
Is a web-based application/web service
Key Features : 
  • Share collected data between mobile team members and data consumers in real-time
  • Allow team members to collaborate on data entry and review collected data, regardless of their locations
  • Reduce double entry, increase team cooperation and still employ more traditional workflows when needed
  • Perform all of the major functions of data collection on a smartphone (form building, data entry & export)
  • Use Group Complete Mobile to work offline
  • Integrate with Open Data Kit and XForms workflows
Main Services: 
Voting, Data Collection, Surveys, and Polling
Location-Specific Services and GIS
Mobile Social Network/Peer-to-peer
Information Resources/Information Databases
Display tool in profile: 
Tool Maturity: 
Currently deployed
Release Date: 
Current Version: 
Program/Code Language: 
Organizations Using the Tool: 


Number of Current End Users: 
Number of current beneficiaries: 
Support Forums:
Languages supported: 
English (multi-lingual capable)
Handsets/devices supported: 
All versions of Android 2.2, 2.3 and 3.x supported. Support for Android 2.1 coming soon.
Is the Tool's Code Available?: 
Is an API available to interface with your tool?: 

April Events Roundup

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Apr 01, 2011

What's happening in the world of mobiles? Check out the MobileActive event calendar for the best conferences, events and developer meetings happening this month!

  • 1 April, Mobile Security Hackday (New York City, USA): It's no joke, MobileActive is hosting a hackday in our new digs. This casual, day-long event will help you better understand mobile and digital network security as we discuss tools for enhanced security, profile open-source tools and allow time to talk about security needs and issues.
  • 6-8 April, The Mobile Learning Experience (Phoenix, USA): Interested in learning how apps and mobile devices can be used in K-12 classrooms? The Mobile Learning experience is a three-day event that focuses on everything from using apps to improve writing to incorporating mobile devices into traditional teaching.
  • 6-7 April, M-Commerce World Summit 2011 (Singapore): The M-Commerence World Summit looks at mobile money transfers and payments, mobile remittances, mobile banking (including among unbanked populations) and microfinance services.
  • 8-9 April, National Conference for Media Reform 2011 (Boston, USA): This conference brings together experts in the fields of media, technology and democracy to look at how all three can be used to create better, more open systems. Themes include: Policy and Politics, Social Justice and Movement Building, Journalism and Public Media, Media Makers & Culture and the Arts, and Technology and Innovation.